Miscellaneous Souls weaves together themes of memory, place, and childhood with those of domestic violence, survival and paths we walk. It is a story of connecting to my past through the place I live now. It is a story of surviving a traumatic childhood and an homage to all the souls who did not.
The title references the word "miscellaneous" that was printed on a canvas, drawstring bag my mother filled with our shoes the night we left her abusive boyfriend for the last time. Having already moved twenty times by age ten due to similar circumstances, this time was different. A few days later we were on a bus to live in a women’s shelter in a new state – to start a new life. That night my mother literally and figuratively walked us out of one life and put us on the path to a new one. Years later that bag was still burned into my memory and when I was a teenager I asked her why she only took shoes. She said she could make us almost everything else, but not shoes. It was a survival based decision and underscores for me now just how tenuous our lives were then.
My photography practice often takes me into open fields and urban edge spaces in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I now live. I frequently see old shoes desiccated by the sun and half eaten by the high desert and their presence and condition is always unsettling. It does not foretell good things about their wearer’s lives. One day I linked my memory to all these old shoes, seeing them in a new light and feeling connected to the souls who wore them and their likely struggles in life - knowing these could have been my shoes if my life path had turned out differently.
Miscellaneous Souls is for my childhood self, it’s for all children who grow up in violent homes. It’s for my mother who made a profound choice, for everyone who makes choices that change their lives for the better. It’s for those who have insurmountable odds or still struggle, and a prayer that a path opens for them, that they land on their feet and establish firm roots.
Using photos of shoes found in the landscape, ephemera and personal items from childhood and photos of the places I grew up and now live . . .
THEMES: memory, place, domestic violence, survival, paths we take/choose/go down and the symbolism of shoes, connecting to your past through place and time
Shoe typologies (shoot for three with all different shoes in each). Experiment with different treatments of typologies: color overlays, partial selections turned b/w and the rest color.
Canvas bag printed with Miscellaneous with shoes in it. Think about possible staged environmental versions of this too.
Shoes laces tied together and in overlapping loopy pattern 1) on white background 2) overlaid on a printed photo and re-shot. The ties that bind.
Family photos. Keep experimenting with diff. ideas, versions, photos, treatments.
Glow in the dark footsteps on black paper in dark.
Decide on custom puzzle images/construction idea. Three different puzzles of OR, WA, NM combined into one puzzle. Use county close-ups, states? Use different 3 different maps so image is more obviously a blend and not a single map. A book could have a vellum/transparent overlay of path of travel. OR not use puzzle idea for map, but for another subject/combination of photos? Create later in project after I have more imagery to choose from, sense of what this would be most effective for.
Make “block prints” with old shoe soles after all shoe photos are finalized. Black paint on white paper and glow in the dark paint on black paper. Experiment with grid and other patterns. Photo the best pieces.
Dead mice in vintage, satin lined, clutch purse? The acid trip at 3 (palm fronds, colors, Richard Scarry)? These might not be ideally related to this project.
Three photos stacked with transparency settings. One each of OR (forest or ocean), WA cloudy skies, NM (ground/dirt). Overall effect is hazy, amorphous, blending of all three places. See what this might look like
Experiment with other “multiple exposure” combos
Footsteps in sand/dirt,
Night: car lights at night, distant house light in the dark, light trails, passage of moon (passage of time), forest at twighlight
Forest berries if possible, footsteps (on beach, wet on river rocks), moss (!), moss bed against nurse stump ?, forest and trees, skies, road signs, anything that catches my gut/eyes/heart…
Allegany: cabin if still there, river, forest, roads, road signs
Charleston: Seven Devils Road sign, beach/jetty, significant places/spots, landscapes, ocean scapes, docks, tide pools, seafood signs
Any names in pavement left?, forest, highway sign, cloudy skies, fog
Mom: in the rubber boots, our feet together, ...
Shoe terms: sole, tongue, arch, last, vamp, welt, heel, … http://www.shoeguide.org/shoe_anatomy/
Path synonyms: trail, passage, journey, track, route, way, course
The ties that bind (laces)
To know a woman, walk a mile in her shoes
It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe. – Muhammad Ali
Because the human history is the history of shoes. The history of places where we ever tread and stand. – Stebby Julionatan
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose. - Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
Sometimes broken shoes and tattered clothes can tell us beautiful stories! – Avijeet Das
If the shoe fits, it’s probably worn out. – Craig Bruce
Tread new ground, tread lightly,
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.- William Butler Yeats
Work to reference:
Amani Willett – The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer
William Le Goullon – (Un) Intended Targets
Christian Patterson – Redheaded Peckerwood
Yukari Chikura – Flourite Fantasia
Paul Thulin – Pine Tree Ballads
Mayumi Suzuki – The Restoration Will
Adrain Chesser, McNair Evans
David Favrod - Hikari
Jaakko Kahilaniemi – 100 Hectares of Understanding
Evoke: memory, time, places, crisis, survival, childhood, journey/path, choices, connections
A story of memory, survival, paths we navigate in life and connecting to past through objects, place and time.
Wizard of Oz themes/metaphors:
"Your Silver Shoes will carry you over the desert," the Good Witch of the South tells Dorothy. "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country"
Yellow Brick Road
Off to the Emerald City
1. (of items or people gathered or considered together) of various types or from different sources.
o (of a collection or group) composed of members or elements of different kinds.
Old shoe taxonomy? number collected, men’s/women’s/children’s, sizes, brands, styles, locations?
The shape of fear
Questions to ask/consider? Ramifications of weaving together facts (personal and non-personal) with fictional representations in regards to a serious topic (domestic violence). Does a stylized aesthetic pose any problems or does it help make it relate-able? Are there any problems in telling my story through the objects of others and representing those objects to suit my story and narrative?
How to incorporate elements about domestic violence? Stats? made as text components? Incorporated into imagery?
about 60% of Native American women are physically assaulted in their lifetime by a partner or spouse.
38% of domestic violence victims will become homeless in their lifetime
25% - 50% of victims of abuse from a partner have lost their job due to domestic violence
More than 1.75 million workdays are lost each year to domestic violence. Lost productivity, with increased health and safety costs, results in a loss of $3 to $5 billion each year
What is the story I want to tell?
I feel like I'm weaving multiple stories together and I'm not entirely sure how I want to tell my story (to what level of detail or the angle I want to approach it. Is it a journey, a general depiction of details, places and feelings, allegorical, ...? Think about this in context of the elements of storytelling below.
What are the themes I want to convey?
Memory, childhood, place, domestic violence, survival, paths we walk/journeys in life, time
What are the feelings I want to evoke?
Urgency, fear/foreboding, difficulty/challenges, transformation
Four Elements of Successful Storytelling:
1) Relatability. Nostalgia, elements that others can relate to in their own lives, etc.
We all wear shoes, childhood books, those who have experienced domestic violence and issues touched on in work,
2) Novelty, newness. But not so novel that you lose people. Find sweet spot between relatable and novel.
Feel like overall concept and shoe connection is novel, along with diverse imagery.
3) Tension. Create a gap between what IS and what SHOULD BE. Open, close, re-open and finally close this gap to create tension.
Not exactly sure about this, but there is inherent drama/tension in domestic violence. How to leverage that without exploiting it as a device. What is the gap in this story? Surviving trauma, journey from dangerous place to a better life? What are devices/imagery that open and close that gap? What gives the gap some closure in this story (don't feel like it needs to be a firm closure though as it's a larger topic that is not resolved)
4) Fluency. Remove barriers/devices/language that impede people from becoming immersed in your story.
Not sure if this is an issue of fluency, but I'm nervous about pulling together so many threads in one piece that it confuses people as to my intention or their ability to connect to it. An overly dense combination of themes can be problematic. Is there a way to reconcile this complexity with a presentation that is accessible but not watered down? Perhaps resolve this in final editing process, focusing in on the elements that seem most important once all imagery is made.